More real life in­vi­ta­tion to death

This twisted trio had a truly sick­en­ing plan for their Christ­mas Day guest

Pick Me Up! - - CONTENTS -

The prom­ise of sex was just a ruse – he’d for­mu­lated a sin­is­ter plan

Jan­uary 2016…and the Reece fam­ily was grow­ing in­creas­ingly wor­ried about Christo­pher West, 39.

His sis­ter and her hus­band hadn’t heard from him since De­cem­ber and they in­sisted that it wasn’t like Christo­pher to be out of touch with his fam­ily for so long – es­pe­cially over the fes­tive sea­son.

‘He al­ways made con­tact with us. Al­ways,’ re­called his brother-in-law.

But the cou­ple’s texts and Face­book mes­sages re­mained unan­swered.

Christ­mas came and went and Christo­pher’s fam­ily knew some­thing was ter­ri­bly wrong.

On 27 Jan­uary, they called the po­lice to re­port their loved one miss­ing, and of­fi­cers in Kingsport, Ten­nessee, be­gan their search. On 17 Fe­bru­ary, the po­lice dis­cov­ered burnt hu­man re­mains in an em­bank­ment lo­cated in the re­mote Chero­kee Na­tional For­est.

Around two weeks later, an au­topsy con­firmed it was the body of Christo­pher West.

Their worst fears con­firmed, his fam­ily was dev­as­tated.

And, for the in­ves­ti­ga­tors, this was no longer a miss­ing­per­sons case. They were deal­ing with a mur­der.

But who had killed Christo­pher West? And why had his body been burned?

The de­tec­tives soon learned that Christo­pher had last been seen at an apart­ment com­plex in which an ac­quain­tance of his, Krys­tal Lane, 25, lived.

When ques­tioned by the po­lice, Lane told them that Christo­pher had vis­ited her briefly on Christ­mas Day but had left to run some er­rands and never re­turned.

But, as the de­tec­tives pushed Lane for fur­ther de­tails, she be­gan to crack un­der the pres­sure, and the aw­ful truth came out.

Lane re­vealed that on Christ­mas Day she’d had two friends – Tim­o­thy Mceach­ern, 44, and Amanda Laforce,

28 – at her apart­ment.

But, in­stead of cel­e­brat­ing the sea­son, en­joy­ing Christ­mas din­ner, the trio spent the day in a drug-fu­elled haze.

They were tak­ing syn­thetic ‘de­signer drug’ al­pha-pvp – known as ‘gravel’ – as well as crys­tal metham­phetamine.

Mceach­ern and Laforce were an item, but Lane told the po­lice that Mceach­ern be­came ag­i­tated af­ter Laforce got a text message from Christo­pher, a friend of hers.

In his highly in­tox­i­cated state, Mceach­ern flew into a jeal­ous rage, de­manded that his girl­friend message Christo­pher back and con­vince him to come over to Lane’s apart­ment to have sex with her.

But the prom­ise of sex was just a ruse, as the fu­ri­ous Mceach­ern had for­mu­lated a sin­is­ter plan.

Amanda Laforce went along with her boyfriend’s de­mand, and Christo­pher read­ily agreed to head over for a fes­tive fling.

When Christo­pher ar­rived, Laforce re­mained on the sofa, while Lane opened the door and wel­comed him in.

‘Hi,’ smiled Laforce, as Christo­pher en­tered the room.

Just be­hind where Christo­pher stood was the kitchen – where Mceach­ern was wait­ing, wear­ing a ski mask and clutch­ing a base­ball bat.

He struck Christo­pher from be­hind with the bat and he fell to the floor, dazed and in agony.

De­spite the mask, Lane said that Christo­pher recog­nised

‘I want to hear what their rea­son is to take some­one’s life’

his attacker as Mceach­ern.

And for Christo­pher, the ter­ri­fy­ing Christ­mas night­mare had only just be­gun.

Mceach­ern bound him tightly with duct tape, sub­jected him to a bru­tal beat­ing.

In his drug-in­duced frenzy, Mceach­ern also choked Christo­pher and threat­ened him with a hand­gun as he pleaded for his life to be spared.

Mceach­ern then or­dered Lane and Laforce to go out to his car and get some plas­tic cable ties.

The two women did as they were told, but their search of the car was un­suc­cess­ful.

When they came back into the apart­ment, they found Christo­pher dead on the floor.

Now the three of them had to dis­pose of his body.

As Box­ing Day crept up on them, the wicked trio called a friend and per­suaded him to come over. The man com­plied, and drove them to a lo­cal DIY shop to buy cloths, bleach, spray bot­tles and a fire log.

From there, Mceach­ern stopped at an­other store to shoplift some ex­tra items, in­clud­ing bin bags.

Back at Lane’s apart­ment, they set about clear­ing up the grue­some mess.

Mceach­ern, Laforce and Lane fran­ti­cally scrubbed down the apart­ment to re­move any trace of ev­i­dence.

Then, while oth­ers were en­joy­ing a re­lax­ing Box­ing Day, they heaved the body into the boot of their friend’s car.

The group set off in search of a se­cluded area, stop­ping at the Chero­kee Na­tional For­est, Greene County.

Near the North Car­olina State line, they found a re­mote em­bank­ment. Bundling the body of their vic­tim out of the boot, they set fire to it in a fi­nal at­tempt to cover their tracks.

Christo­pher West’s charred body stayed hid­den there, until he was fi­nally dis­cov­ered by the au­thor­i­ties in Fe­bru­ary 2016.

Kingsport de­tec­tives pre­sented their find­ings to the County Grand Jury, and war­rants were is­sued for the ar­rests of Lane, Mceach­ern and Laforce.

Lane was al­ready in cus­tody af­ter her con­fes­sion, and Mceach­ern and Laforce were soon tracked down. They were al­ready in prison on un­re­lated theft charges.

Tim­o­thy Mceach­ern, Amanda Laforce and Krys­tal Lane were charged with first-de­gree mur­der and the abuse of a corpse.

Des­per­ate for jus­tice, Christo­pher’s fam­ily were on ten­ter­hooks.

‘I want to look them in the eye,’ said his brother-in-law Robert Reese, ‘I want to hear what their rea­son is to take some­one’s life.’

At court in Septem­ber 2017, Mceach­ern pleaded guilty to a re­duced charge of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der and abus­ing a corpse, as part of a plea agree­ment.

He was sen­tenced to 26 years in prison for sec­ond-de­gree mur­der and an ex­tra six years on su­per­vised pro­ba­tion for abuse of the body.

Krys­tal Lane pleaded guilty to an amended charge of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der as well, and also pleaded guilty to abuse of a corpse, pos­ses­sion of the Sched­ule I drug al­pha-pvp with in­tent to de­liver, main­tain­ing a dwelling for drug use, and pos­ses­sion of drug para­pher­na­lia.

Lane was sen­tenced to 25 years for the mur­der charge, and a total of al­most 12 years for the other charges, in­clud­ing 11 months and 29 days for drug­para­pher­na­lia pos­ses­sion.

Amanda Laforce was charged with first-de­gree mur­der and abuse of a corpse, but as Pick Me Up! goes to press, has yet to come to trial.

While jus­tice may have been served, this hasn’t made the Christ­mas sea­son any eas­ier for Christo­pher West’s fam­ily.

For them, the pain is still fresh, but they in­sist that their faith car­ries them through.

Speak­ing to his broth­erin-law’s killers, in the Press, Reese had a hard message...

‘I will never for­get what you have taken from me, my fam­ily and this world. You had no right.’

Vic­tim Christo­pher West

The com­plex where the hor­ror un­folded

laforce

lane

mceach­ern

The body was found in a re­mote wooded area

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